actually

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English actualy, actuelly, equivalent to actual +‎ -ly.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈak.t͡ʃʊ.ə.li/, /ˈak.t͡ʃʊli/, /ˈak.t͡ʃə.li/, /ˈak.ʃʊ.ə.li/, /ˈak.ʃʊli/, /ˈak.ʃə.li/, /ˈak.ʃli/
    • (Conservative RP) IPA(key): /ˈak.t͡ʃʊ.ə.lɪ/, /ˈak.ʃʊ.ə.lɪ/, /ˈak.tjʊ.ə.lɪ/
    • (UK, nonstandard) IPA(key): /ˈatʃ.u.li/, /ˈatʃ.ə.li/, /ˈatʃ.li/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈæk.t͡ʃu.(ə.)li/, /ˈæk.t͡ʃu.li/, /ˈæk.t͡ʃə.li/, /ˈæk.t͡ʃli/, /ˈæk.ʃu.(ə.)li/, /ˈæk.ʃu.li/, /ˈæk.ʃə.li/, /ˈæk.ʃli/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æktʃʊəli

Adverb[edit]

actually (not comparable)

  1. (modal) In act or in fact; really; in truth; positively.
    Actually, I had nothing to do with that incident.
  2. (obsolete) Actively.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In other European languages, cognates of actually mean "now" or "currently"; (e.g., Portuguese "atualmente", Spanish "actualmente", French "actuellement", German "aktuell", Italian "attualmente", Czech "aktuálně"), making it a false friend. This leads many non-native speakers of English to use "actually" when they mean "now" or "currently".
  • Some commentators have:
    1. remarked upon the irony that this qualifier of veracity often introduces an utter lie;[1] and,
    2. noted that in many cases, actually functions as little more than a vacuous emphatic utterance.[2]
  • In practice, actually and its synonyms are often used to insinuate that the following is either unusual or contrary to a norm or preceding assumption, or to merely preface an overconfident opinion contrasting a previous statement or norm (as per 'vacuous emphasis' note above).
This is actually a really beautiful song. (contrasting opinion)
Actually, I'm not from France – I'm from Switzerland. (contrary from assumption)
At the check-out, the cashier actually greeted me for once. (contrary from norm)

Alternative forms[edit]

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christopher Howse; Richard Preston (2007) She Literally Exploded: The Daily Telegraph Infuriating Phrasebook, London: Constable and Robinson, →ISBN, page 3.
  2. ^ ibidem, page 4

Middle English[edit]

Adverb[edit]

actually

  1. Alternative form of actualy

Scots[edit]

Adverb[edit]

actually

  1. actually

References[edit]